“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” –David Ogilvy
Whether for your website, brochure, flyer, newsletter or catalog, if you can’t catch someone with a headline, chances are your body copy is of no interest to them. So how do you efficiently capture your content into one snappy headline?
Let’s start with some DON’T’s:
- Don’t create a snappy headline with no relevance to your content. This is setting your reader up for disappointment right off the bat. When they realize they have been misled, it’s over.
- Don’t exceed 62 characters (specific to online headlines) as search engines drop off the rest of the characters, rendering them un-searchable. Also, it’s a headline, let’s be quick about it.
- Don’t exceed 6-12 words (non-online copy). Like we said, short and sweet. 5 times as many people read the headline than do the copy!
Now what should you do?
- Stop viewing headline creation as ‘writing’. This is as strict as it gets. Copy writing is not the same as writing. If you don’t know the difference it may be time to invest in a freelance copywriter!
- Start with the body copy, end with the headline.
- Highlight the most highly desirable morsel of information in the headline- the top billed content, the most popular part of your content- put it on display.
- Write more than one- many, many more. Experts suggest writing up 25 headlines, and cultivating down from there.
- Incorporate numbers, symbols and stats. Studies show that headlines with characters other than just letters are more powerful. (Interesting fact, the brain responds to odd numbers more than even numbers!)
- Consider a play on words, issue a challenge or command, offer something, explain something, or announce something. Anything to make your headline less vanilla- it’s not meant to be just words strung together, it needs to be enticing.
Still seem overwhelming? There are many online resources and expert opinions out there on how to best generate a headline- do some research!